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Start Yacht Racing

2: Training options

There is not as many schemes that serve as an introduction to yacht racing in the same way as for dinghy, keelboat and multihull sailing, so those wanting to learn to race big boats need to be a little more resourceful in planning their training. What’s the best size of boat to train on? It really doesn’t matter, especially if you already have some sailing experience — people can train on 52- footers, although most yachts used for training are in the mid 30-40ft bracket.

Whatever boat you start out on, it’s important to recognise that deck layouts vary enormously even among boats of similar sizes, so be flexible in your thinking and be prepared for things to be done slightly differently on each boat you sail. This is even more marked for boats of different sizes and with differing numbers of crew, so when you first sail an unfamiliar boat make sure you’re briefed as to what your role in each manoeuvre will entail.

The UK’s very comprehensive sail cruising training scheme may be useful for those who want to get to grips with the general aspects of life afloat on a yacht. For those who want to race, taking the Competent Crew course on a raceoriented boat will prove more beneficial than on cruising designs.

This scheme can also be invaluable at a later stage of your racing career when you may take charge of the boat, possibly on a delivery, or on a watch during an offshore race. The Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster qualifications include navigation, boat handling and seamanship skills that will be required alongside your racing knowledge and ability.

A number of schools run race training courses which focus specifically on the skills needed for inshore racing. These can be tailored to suit your existing experience, will prepare you for specific roles and offer the opportunity to experience performing that role while competing in wellknown events. This is often an excellent route for good dinghy sailors, or those with a cruising background, and gives a good leg-up into making rapid progress in the skills needed for yacht racing.

Those who are new to sailing may also find the RYA keelboat courses helpful. These will give you experience sailing a smaller boat, and will give you at a broader range of experience covering all the roles on board, including helming. As a small boat is more responsive, it’s easier to get the feel of the vessel and the wind. This knowledge and awareness can then be easily transferred to larger craft.

Previous page:1 How is this different?

One of the biggest differences is the considerably greater loads on a big yacht

Next page:3 Finding a crewing position

One tactic is to hitch a lift by ‘dockwalking’ around marinas before the start of racing

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